Birgitta's text, 1992

[Text by Birgitta Sequoyah, c.November 1992]

N.I. Sequoyah was born on January 3, 1952, in Tahlehquah, Oklahoma, under the English name Billy Ray Waldon. Already as a child he busied himself with languages. That is why he was given besides his first name Nvwtohiyada Idehesdi, which means "to live in peace, harmony, and good health," the name Sequoyah, after the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet. The wish to develop a world language which would be understood by all people was very significant for his future life. He had understood at a very early age that many of his schoolmates only had to repeat classes because they couldn't follow classes taught in English. Children who were able to communicate in Cherokee without any problems became total idiots as soon as English was involved. NIS started to build a language which would build a bridge between the pregnant Cherokee and the relatively clumsy English.

After he finished high school, NIS joined the US Navy. He completed courses and became an electronic warfare technician. This job led him to Japan, Korea, the Phillipines, and to Europe.

There he had his first contact with Esperanto. Esperanto influenced his own language project in such a way that he rewrote it and gave it its second name, Poliespo. At the time that he was in the Navy NIS gave various speeches about the Cherokee, their language and their culture. Those lectures at first concentrated on historical facts, but later on as he began to include the legal situation of the Cherokee and started to busy himself intensively with land rights and autonomy of his tribe, one started to become aware of him.

A man who called himself Mark Williams contacted NIS first. He presented himself as an affiliate of the US Secret Service and wanted NIS to work for that Secret Service. He should go to Nicaragua for the CIA and convince the Indians who lived there to fight together with the Contra against the Sandinistas, whom the Americans hated at that time. In return, after the overthrow of the Sandinista government, the Indians would be given autonomy. NIS refused.

He wanted to quit the Navy because the humanitarian goals of the Esperanto movement had become more important to him than a high monthly salary. In addition to that he had meanwhile contacted various members of the National Congress of the American Indians.

He founded, in 1984, four organizations which had become his life's core: The United Nations of Autonomous Peoples, the World Humanitarian Church, the World Esperanto Organization and the World Poliespo Organization.

In the summer of 1985 Birgitta Holenstein, who was traveling at that time as a tourist in the San Francisco area, overheard a heated discussion between two men at Fisherman's Wharf. As they turned around and left, one of them lost a piece of paper which fell out of his folder. Birgitta picked it up and gave it to him. The paper was a flyer for the World Humanitarian Church. The man with the folder was NIS. The other man was W, as Birgitta got to know according to NIS. She encouraged NIS to break of the contact with Williams because Williams seemed very suspect to her.

Shortly thereafter, Birgitta continued her trip but remained in contact with NIS, who traveled to Germany as the leader of a Esperanto youth delegation and participated in the Esperanto Universal Congress at Augsburg.

At that time he was already under observation by the Secret Service. His luggage was repeatedly searched and he had to undergo strip searchs at the borders of the different European countries through which he traveled. (Doc. 1) Also during this trip NIS was giving various speeches and was trying to recruit members for the four organizations.

The relationship between NIS and BH deepened by letter and telephone. Shortly after his return to California they agreed to meet in San Diego where they met on the 19th of December, 1985.

On the following day, 20th of December 1985, NIS told BH that he had an appointment with W. The reason for the appointment was a special bicycle that NIS had imported from Germany and which Williams wanted to buy from him. BH watched NIS and W disappear into a back alley together. As they didn't return after a while, BH went into the alley and looked around the corner and saw that NIS was lying on the ground unmoving. Beside him she saw W and two people wearing dark sweatshirts with the words Federal Agent printed in block letters. The two people were wearing ski masks. NIS was not moving any more, so BH suspected that he had been killed. Later BH observed W drive away in NIS's car.

What actually happened in San Diego BH learned five years later when NIS called her from his jail cell in SD. They had accused him of the following crimes: Three murders, ten rapes (nine of the rape charges were dropped shortly thereafter), numerous armed robberies, as well as arson. (Doc. 2)

As evidence the prosecution presented items that the police had found in NIS car: driver's licences of the victims of the armed robberies, a box of costume jewelry, a computer and computer equipment, a gold ring, a supermarket credit card, and numerous wallets.

NIS has been able to escape his assailants and had spent six months in the underground. During that time no crimes occured which one could have accused him of. The weapon which he carried at the time of his arrest, and which according to his testimony did not belong to him, had a totally different caliber than the weapons with which all of the crimes were committed. These weapons have never been found. The evidence in the car does not show a single fingerprint belonging to NIS. In June of 1986 NIS was arrested, again under very suspicious circumstances, and was incarcerated in the notorious San Diego County Jail.

Then followed a long fight for his right to represent himself after it had become very clear to him that his lawyers were betraying him.

NIS's family and friends were systematically intimidated by the FBI. The media published a campaign to destroy his reputation. Among other things NIS was branded as a homosexual carrying the AIDS virus. The results of the HIV test which he had to undergo in jail were negative.

In the beginning of 1991, BH visited the defendant several times in the San Diego County Jail and there the two of them finally did what they had already planned in 1985: They got married on the 9th of April.

After more than five years of imprisonment without trial, finally, in summer of 1991, the trial began. In this trial, prosecution witnesses admitted on the stand that their testimony was influenced by the prosecutor (Doc. 3), vital evidence was not permitted before the jury or was destroyed (Doc. 4). Defense witnesses were massively intimidated or sent home without having been permitted to testify (Doc. 5). The freedom of speech of the defendant (US Constititution Paragraph 1) was so limited that he could present less than 40% of his defense to the jury. The judge and the prosecutor mocked and ridiculed NIS's defense in the courtroom as well as to the media.

NIS in December of 1991 was found guilty by the jury and finally received the death penalty (Doc.6).

The death verdict was confirmed by Judge David M. Gill on February 1992 despite the intervention of numerous organizations, family members, and friends of the defendant (Doc. 7). Since March of 1992 NIS is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in an isolation cell. He is not entitled to receive any visits, doesn't have a chair or table, just the inside of a pen, paper, and a shaver without tip. The light in his cell is on twenty-four hours a day, and until now neither his family nor lawyers have been able to directly contact him. This threatens his right to appeal because the deadlines are passing by without being used.

"Framing" in the USA

NIS's is not a isolated case. Since the sixties numerous American Indian activists, Black people, or activists of human rights or environmental groups have wound up in jail under dubious or suspicious circumstances. The tactic to get rid of uncomfortable citizens through falsified evidence and influenced witness testimonies has been used in most of these cases. The former Black Panther leader, Geronimo Pratt, or the Lakota Leonard Peltier, American Indian Movement spokesperson, are only two examples of a long list.

Doc.1 excerpts of trial transcripts, dialog between Mr. Laturno, FBI, and Geraldine Russell, then attorney for NIS
Doc. 2 wanted poster
Doc. 3 excerpts of the trial transcripts, 1991, testimony of witness Copeland that his testimony was manipulated by Carpenter
Doc. 4 Police report that the pistol found on NIS in 1986 was destroyed
Doc. 5 testimony of ex-FBI Swearingen would have made if he had been allowed to testify
Doc. 6 San Diego Union Tribune article
Doc. 7 Letter from Charlotte Kohrs, statement by Birgitta
Doc. 8 Article: Framing of Geronimo Pratt
Doc. 9 Various newspaper articles

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